Indonesia is a country of nearly 240 million people. Unfortunately, many of its inhabitants lack access to traditional banking services. In fact, Perbanas, Indonesia’s National Banking Association, considers the state of the banking industry “a failure” since more than half of the population has no access to banking. Perbanas chairman Sigit Pramono said,
“The access to banking is far lower than telecommunication.”
Only 40% of the population has gained access to the banking industry while telecommunication has a 102% penetration (due to multiple SIM card ownership). Bitcoin might just be the perfect solution to what G20 calls Indonesia’s “emerging economy”.
Bitcoin would bypass traditional banks entirely since Bitcoin allows one to “be your own bank”, so to speak. So far, Indonesia hasn’t really shown up on the Bitcoin scene. Many users rely on LocalBitcoins to purchase BTC in cash. International exchanges like Mt. Gox tend to be avoided with new accounts taking several months to verify. However, a new local exchange is making headlines – Bitcoin.co.id. Bitcoin.co.id isn’t the first Indonesian service of the sort. Similar other services exist such as artaBit and tuker.in. These services exchange Bitcoin for the local currency, Indonesian rupiah, at a fixed rate that is based on rates from Mt. Gox and Bitstamp.
While these services aren’t fully functional and truly open exchanges like Bitstamp, local resident Ericson Pasaribu states that these are stepping stones to promoting Bitcoin in the country. Indonesia has a growing and turbulent economy, making it an ideal spot for financial innovation. Despite the Global Financial Crisis, Indonesia’s economic growth was third highest out of the Group of Twenty largest industrialised economies. The country has a small but growing tech startup scene mostly comprised of the young population. Developing simple payment solutions using Bitcoin would certainly help the country’s emerging economy.